Water Quality

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality uses water quality standards to assess whether the quality of Oregon's rivers and lakes is adequate for fish and other aquatic life, recreation, drinking, agriculture, industry and other uses. DEQ also uses the standards as regulatory tools to prevent pollution of the state's waters. The Clean Water Act requires states to adopt water quality standards designating beneficial uses of the state's waters and setting criteria designed to protect those uses. States submit their standards to the federal Environmental Protection Agency for approval.

Find the Water Quality Standards at Oregon Administrative Rules 340. See Division 41.

Current news


Public review and comment on DEQ water quality standards review and revision priorities

What’s happening?

DEQ is developing a draft list of priority water quality standards review and revision needs.  This summer, DEQ obtained public input to assist the agency in deciding what projects to initiate over the next 3 years.
Water quality standards protect surface water quality for aquatic life and human health by setting criteria, designating waterbody uses and preventing a worsening of water quality.  The Clean Water Act requires states to periodically review and revise water quality standards and hold public meetings about those proposed changes.
Additional information

What might change about water quality standards?

DEQ reviews and revises water quality standards to take into account new environmental information, to meet new federal requirements, or to improve clarity or program implementation. Highest priority standards revisions would help our water quality programs comply with decisions made by U.S. EPA, National Marine Fisheries Service, and courts.  Other priority standards revisions would allow DEQ to make decisions based on site specific conditions, environmental effects, and appropriate uses of waterbodies. Priority standards changes would also help DEQ staff implement qualitative criteria, assess gaps in protection or overprotection of waterbodies, and respond to new scientific information.
DEQ will prioritize what water quality standards changes to initiate in the next three to five years and what changes may take place after five years. DEQ expects to present a final report to the Environmental Quality Commission in January 2018.
decorative image: hosmer lake
Hosmer Lake




Debra Sturdevant, 503-229-6691
Toll-Free in Oregon at 800-452-4011, ext. 6691